Tuesday, May 11, 2010

NYU's expansion plan for the East Village

The NYU 2031 Expansion Plan World Tour made a stop last night at CB3's Zoning Committee meeting.

NYU Vice President for Government Relations and Community Engagement Alicia D. Hurley provided a rundown of the school's ambitious plans, which, of course, includes building up their Washington Square Park core area... harvesting Governors Island... and trading the College of Dentistry on First Avenue to New Jersey for two future fifth-round draft choices. (OK, kidding on the last one you know.)

Fine, fine... we've read this before... But what about the East Village?

Before going any further, I actually thought a few protesters might show up... like at NYU's first Open House on April 14. Nope, it was all civil... No pitchforks, no agitated NIMBYs...no one really. GVHSP Executive Director Andrew Berman was there and repeated his concerns about the whole expansion, particularly in the core area.

Hurley gave her presentation, as she has been doing a lot lately around town ... and the Zoning Committee asked a few questions. A few people in the small audience of 30 or so asked some questions. From a Board member: "There's still a blank page when it comes to this part of town."

Earlier, Hurley had said: "A lot of our growth won't be taking place in this area."

And, she admitted, "We understand that we have over saturated that Third Avenue corridor."

As NYU has already stated, the school wants to expand by 6 million square feet... roughly 3 million square feet will be taken up in downtown Brooklyn and Governors Island, as previously reported... and another 1.5 million to 2 million square feet or so will come from their Washington Square Park core area (the so-called superblocks...).

And NYU bought the Forbes Building on Fifth Avenue and 730 Broadway, the former (Nobody Beats) the Wiz store...those spaces provide the school with another 300,000 square feet... so still 700,000-plus square feet to go...somewhere in the larger neighborhood that Hurley showed as being between Canal and 18th Streets to the south and north... and Eighth Avenue and First Avenue to the west and east... As The Villager noted last week, "exactly where these locations would be is currently unknown, and would depend on what real estate becomes available."

With the new expansion plans, a board member asked if they'd be a need for NYU to come east of Third Avenue; another member said east of First Avenue... Hurley responded by shrugging her shoulders. She finally allowed, "We'll always be open to opportunities."

She said this meeting was about hearing from the board. This was all about having an open-minded conversation, that the board just couldn't "say no to NYU." Period. Does that mean no dorms? No administrative offices? What is the EV community willing to allow, if anything? She thought this approach worked better than NYU showing up with, say, four sites already in mind to use for expansion in the East Village.

Hurley also said that the NYU student growth rate was slowing considerably, to about .5 percent a year...which means about 3,000 more NYU students in the next 25 years.

And there were more numbers and what-ifs... She discussed the scale of dorm sites: 300 students were a minimum for a dorm, and that 175,000 square feet was necessary to accommodate that amount (roughly the size of the 12th Street dorm) ... However, a dorm that tall is improbable now courtesy of the East Village/LES rezoning. Board member David McWater figured such a space would require six typical lots put together...

Board member Barden Prisant is the CB3 representative who sits on the city's task force on NYU development that Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer formed to help avoid the neighborhood anger stemming from past growth. He suggested that the board brainstorm some talking points to arm him with for future NYU-related meetings. He suggested showing a unified front on the issue... so it appeared he wasn't merely expressing his opinion, rather that of the entire board.

So far, the East Village has been spared of any public expansion talk. Still, as Save the Lower East Side! noted last month: "Scarier still is their silence on the East Village. Looking at the fantasies-afar, you know it's going to pop up here, but they don't give a clue as to where."

More to come...

[Second photo is from the April 14 Open House via the GVSHP site]


Anonymous said...

I always heard they were going to build dorms at the Church Parking lot on Ave A between 12th and 11th street

glamma said...

thank you for this important coverage grieve.

Bowery Boogie said...

nyu won't stop until every building has that damn purple flag hanging out front.

glamma said...

the purple flow is somewhat redolent of the thousands of barrels of oil that are spewing into our ocean every day.. a silent killer... that explodes when no one's looking.. let's hope the city's task force on NYU does a better job than the MMS. And let's help them do it by staying vocal and spreading awareness of this issue.

Stephen said...

It's a little late in the day to be complaining about this. NYU is already synonymous with the Village. NYU keeps the village and indeed most of downtown relevant by stabilizing the real estate market in a harsh economy and in a city where the only alternatives are "luxury boutiques" with "luxury condos" above them or migration to midtown.

That said, the school has a perpetual housing crisis and must build a lot of dorms to house a lot of its first-year students, but many of those students eventually make their way into off-campus housing and thus the local rental market. I think NYU could benefit from starting an off-campus housing program for second-year students to accelerate this process and reduce its need for dorms.

Goggla said...

No word on St Vincent's and its suddenly available buildings?